Examining the Big Ten Title Hunt

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There are only 3 or 4 games left in Big Ten play for teams to make a move up the standings and claim their spot in the inaugural Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis. Here’s a look at the standings and how teams can make the jump to the top, even with the most outrageous gap.

LEGENDS

T1. Nebraska (7-1, 3-1):

If Nebraska can win out, they will win the division and advance to Indianapolis for the first Big Ten Championship game. As long as the Huskers can beat Michigan, and Michigan State sustains another loss, they can afford to drop one game – likely the Nov. 12 matchup with Penn State. Nebraska looks like the best-positioned team in the Legends Division right now.

Big Ten games remaining: 4

Tiebreakers: Michigan State and Minnesota.

T1. Michigan State (6-2, 3-1):

Michigan State is going to have to out-win Nebraska by a game if they are going to win the division. While the next four games look easy for the Spartans, they can’t win the division without a little help.

Big Ten games remaining: 4

Tiebreakers: Michigan

T1. Michigan (7-1, 3-1):

Michigan will have to overcome a brutal final four games if they want to win the division and head to Indy. The Wolverines will have to beat Nebraska and Ohio State, plus hope Michigan State slips up.

Big Ten games remaining: 4

Tiebreakers: Minnesota and Northwestern

4. Iowa (5-3, 2-2):

There is a very realistic possibility that Iowa may not win another game this season. The Hawkeyes’ closing schedule is brutal, with three ranked teams and an underrated Purdue team. The Hawkeyes will likely have to win out to take home the division crown.

Big Ten games remaining: 4

Tiebreakers: Northwestern

5. Minnesota (2-6, 1-3):

Last week’s loss to Iowa pretty much put the nail in the coffin for Minnesota. While the Golden Gophers still aren’t mathematically eliminated, they will have to go undefeated and hope for some additional catastrophe if they want to show up in Indy in December.

Big Ten games remaining: 4

Tiebreakers: Iowa

6. Northwestern (3-5, 1-4):

Northwestern needs to win out. Plain and simple. Will it happen? The Wildcats are fourth in the Big Ten in points scored, but they’re also second in points allowed. Michigan State and Nebraska will likely prove too tough for Northwestern to overcome.

Big Ten games remaining: 3

Tiebreakers: None

LEADERS

1. Penn State (8-1, 5-0):

Penn State controls its own destiny, needing only two wins to lock up the division. However, those two wins will have to come from Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin. It will be a tough road for the Nittany Lions, but with a lead already stretched to three games, they may be able to hang on for the division title.

Big Ten games remaining: 3

Tiebreakers: Purdue and Illinois

T2. Ohio State (5-3, 2-2):

The Buckeyes, like the rest of the Leaders Division, will need Penn State to lose. An Ohio State win over Penn State on Nov. 19 will help, but it will not be enough by itself. The Buckeyes will need to win out.

Big Ten games remaining: 4

Tiebreakers: Wisconsin and Illinois

T2. Wisconsin (6-2, 2-2):

Wisconsin is in the same boat as Ohio State. Beating the Nittany Lions on Thanksgiving weekend will be the key win to put the Badgers in position to possibly win a tiebreaker with Penn State atop the division.

Big Ten games remaining: 4

Tiebreakers: None

T2. Purdue (4-4, 2-2):

Purdue already missed its chance at Penn State. All it can do now is hope. If, for some reason, Penn State crumbles, and the Boilermakers are able to take care of business against Wisconsin and Ohio State, they could be the darkhorse in the Leaders Division.

Big Ten games remaining: 4

Tiebreakers: Illinois

5. Illinois (6-3, 2-2):

The Illini aren’t completely out of it, but with no tiebreakers to speak of, they will need to run the board and have Penn State completely collapse. That, plus the other Leaders Division teams will have to split wins. It will take a total miracle for Illinois to make it to Indy.

Big Ten games remaining: 3

Tiebreakers: None

6. Indiana (1-8, 0-5):

Eliminated from Big Ten and Bowl contention.

Photo Courtesy Man Cave Sports

By Chris Peters